On the eve of Phish’s first show in five years, we finally got a glimpse into the band’s perspective of their comeback through an insightful feature in the New York Times. If the community’s excitement has built to the point of explosion over the past five months, hearing Trey’s view on the future of Phish sent everyone right over the top. In a case of perfect timing, the band and their fans seem to be on the same page moving into the next phase of our lives; a phase that seems here to stay.
In quite a revealing the expose, Trey commented that, “We’re trying to create a larger format to keep playing for a long time.” Have you ever heard sweeter words? As expected, this next verse of Phish’s lifelong song with not be one of nostalgia, it will be one of creativity and pushing the band’s ideas to new places. As Trey cited in the interview, the band has already recorded twenty demos of new songs for a forthcoming album, he also mentioned that most likely only “Backwards Down the Number Line”will be unveiled this weekend. Needless to say, whatever the band decides to bust out this weekend, the future seems brighter than ever.
In delving back into rehearsals, Phish attacked their catalog like a jaguar going for the jugular. Instead of warming up practicing “Heavy Things,” and “Gotta Jibboo,” the band stepped into The Barn earlier this year, with a renewed commitment to becoming the well-oiled machine that Phish was in the mid-’90s. In accord with this agreement, the band jumped right into their most intense compositions, such as the notoriously hard to play, “Foam.” (Can you say “Fluffhead, anyone?) The band has been staging full on rehearsals in the coliseum all week long, and in response to a “Stash” jam, Page, clearly impressed with the band’s playing, said, tongue in cheek, that it was “the best jam in five years.” This quotation, as well as every other indication in the Times article, illustrates a band that is as rejuvenated as we are to swan dive into chapter three.
Interestingly, the most poignant part of the piece came when Trey reflected on Phish’s role in America’s present state of economic hardship. Citing an affinity for Depression-era swing bands- famous for providing respite from the dire times of the 1930s, Trey drew a parallel to today’s world. “For people in hard times, we can play long shows of pure physical pleasure. They come to dance and forget their troubles. It’s like a service commitment.” Placing Phish in today’s cultural milieu, Trey sees the band’s job not just as a money-making endeavor, but as a necessary piece to our mending our society’s plight. As much ego as been associated with Trey in the past, this statement reflects a selfless perspective that illustrates not just an artistic commitment not to music, but a social commitment to people. While we have always known that Phish tapped into forces far bigger than ourselves, put into this context, this has never been so literal.
The sets for this weekend have been negotiated and for the most part, written down, a process that wasn’t as easy as it sounds. The band had to narrow down their gargantuan catalog to a total of eighty possible songs that could be performed at Hampton. From there, Trey crafted the sets “like Tetris,” alluding to the popular game where every piece must be in the right place for ultimate success.
As we move into this long-awaited weekend, we could not have been accompanied by better news. Coming at just the right moment, we can enter Hampton understanding the band’s intentions and with a detailed perspective on the future. As Phish finalizes their preparation tonight, the entire community is quickly descending upon Hampton. As the band seems prepared to tear the roof off of The Mothership, our countdown has dwindled to less than 24 hours. Soon, we will until we bear witness to what we, and society, have missed over the past half-decade, launching our collective selves into the rest of our lives. Stay tuned!
DOWNLOAD OF THE DAY:
Here is another gem from Phish Thought’s sonic engineer Paul Gwynne-Smith. This show needs no introduction as it can be summed up in three words,”Bowie > Cities > Bowie.” It was here that the old-school Talking Heads cover was revived for the first time in the US during the late-’90s, creating a jam for the ages. These are single-track Mediafire download files, like all of Paul’s other RMSTRs, so create a folder and download away! Look for No Spoilers tonight!
I: NICU, Wolfman’s Brother, Chalk Dust Torture, Water in the Sky, Stash, Weigh, Piper, Cars Trucks Buses, Character Zero
II: Punch You in the Eye, Free, David Bowie > Cities > David Bowie, Bouncing Around the Room, Uncle Pen, Prince Caspian, Fire